India’s vaccine campaign got a shot in the arm after the Novovax candidate returned good results in clinical trials while Indian students headed to the US breathed a sigh of relief following the announcement that a vaccination certificate will not be mandatory for them to apply for a visa. Here is the week that was for vaccines for India.
A Vaccine For India That’s As Good As The Best Out There
The vaccine being made by the US-based biotechnology firm Novavax, Inc., called NVX-CoV2373, showed 90.4% overall efficacy in Phase-3 clinical trials, putting it in on a par with two of the frontline jabs being used in the US and European countries, the ones produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which had efficacy rates of 91,3% and >90% in Phase 3 trials, respectively.
Significantly, the Novavax jab’s efficacy rate is much higher than that of Covishield (76% in US trials) and the Covaxin (81%) vaccines that are the mainstays of India’s inoculation drive. The Russian-made Sputnik V, the third vaccine currently cleared for use in India, has an almost similar efficacy rate of 91.6%.
Christened Covovax for the Indian market, it is being produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and the Centre has booked 200 million doses that are lined up for delivery between August and December this year.
Novavax will reportedly apply for emergency use authorisation in the US in the third quarter of 2021, that is between July and September. But Novavax CEO Stanley Erck has said that since the US already has plenty of vaccine stocks for domestic inoculations, there is a chance that the country’s drug watchdog will ask it to go for a full approval, which is a lengthier process.
Covaxin Hopeful After WHO Move
The week before last it was reported that Covaxin had encountered a setback in the US as the drugs regulator there had asked the vaccine to submit data for full listing, and not emergency use. However, this week brought good tidings for the Bharat Biotech shot after it was reported that the World health Organisation (WHO) has accepted its Expression of Interest (EoI) for emergency listing of its vaccine. A pre-submission meeting in that regard has been scheduled for June 23.
WHO said that while the meeting will not see a detailed review of Covaxin, the manufacturers would get a chance to submit a summary on overall quality of the jab. The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech had last month said it expects WHO approval for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of Covaxin some time between July and September.
The announcement raises hopes as many in India who received the Covaxin jab were anxious that their vaccination status would not be recognised by other countries since the jab has not been cleared for use anywhere outside of India. However, a WHO emergency listing would change that.
Vaccination Not A Must For US-Bound Students
Consular staff of the US in India announced that the countries embassies had resumed the process for granting visas to Indian students from June 14.
Ending confusion and bringing relief after emergency vaccination camps were set up across states for foreign-bound students, US officials clarified that Indian students would not require proof of vaccination to apply for a US visa. However, students would be required to attach a negative Covid-19 report for a test taken within 72 hours before departure.
“We recognise the stress and anxiety this has caused to students and their families, and we are actively working to accommodate as many student visa applicants as possible in July and August. Facilitating legitimate student travel to the United States remains a top priority for the US Mission to India," Don Heflin, the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US embassy, told news agency PTI in an interview.